Genetic analysis of the circadian system in Drosophila melanogaster and mammals

J Neurobiol. 2003 Jan;54(1):111-47. doi: 10.1002/neu.10164.


The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been a grateful object for circadian rhythm researchers over several decades. Behavioral, genetic, and molecular studies helped to reveal the genetic bases of circadian time keeping and rhythmic behaviors. Contrary, mammalian rhythm research until recently was mainly restricted to descriptive and physiologic approaches. As in many other areas of research, the surprising similarity of basic biologic principles between the little fly and our own species, boosted the progress of unraveling the genetic foundation of mammalian clock mechanisms. Once more, not only the basic mechanisms, but also the molecules involved in establishing our circadian system are taken or adapted from the fly. This review will try to give a comparative overview about the two systems, highlighting similarities as well as specifics of both insect and murine clocks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / genetics
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Brain / physiology
  • CLOCK Proteins
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Carrier Screening / methods*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genetic Variation
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / physiology
  • Light
  • Malpighian Tubules / physiology
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / genetics
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Photoperiod
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology
  • Trans-Activators / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Insect Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • CLOCK Proteins